Black Book

When I heard it was the centenary of Durrell's birth, I didn't think of the dense soaps and dreary travelogues of his later writing but of this dark little kernel, The Black Book. To re-read it in adulthood may make its livid prose fall limp, though as a teenager I'm not sure what thrilled me more; to recogise familiar places (in south London) or to have them peopled by such unfamiliar characters. Once championed by Henry Miller and T.S. Eliot, you can pick it up these days for a penny.

• Faber's 1987 paperback. Jacket: Pentagram. Illustration: David Gentleman.

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